Categories Homeland Interviews

Homeland’s Damian Lewis on ‘American Damian,’ Rock-Star Fantasies, and Disturbing Sex Scenes

For a born and bred Brit, Damian Lewis has carved out a remarkably steady career playing dyed-in-the-wool Americans, memorably in Band of Brothers and on Life (he’s slated to play Union general James B. MacPherson in the upcoming Civil War mini-series To Appomattox, too). He’s added another super-convincing tortured good old boy to his résumé as Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, the possibly turned, ever-mysterious ex-prisoner of war at the center of Showtime’s Homeland, which stars Claire Danes as the CIA agent who’s onto/into him. On a hectic press day in Manhattan, Lewis spoke to Vulture about playing Brody, his rock-star fantasies, and filming disturbing sex scenes.

I understand you’ve had a crazy busy day?
I was just feeling a bit hung-over from last night and had to get a coffee. Weirdly we had our wrap party last night, before we wrapped the season. So yeah, I sang in a rock band last night. You’d have been very happy with it. It was pretty impromptu, we realized we had a bunch of musicians in the crew, got together for one rehearsal, and played the wrap party as our gig. I want to be a rock star so badly; it’s very intoxicating to be drunkenly singing at people like that.

I’m sorry to have missed that. So, last we saw you, Brody and Carrie [Claire Danes] just drove off into the sunset. There’s totally going to be a happy ending now, right?
Yeah, as you can tell from the style of the show, everything will be resolved now and it will turn into a romantic-comedy road trip. [Laughs.] You’ve seen their teenage moment in the back of the car …

That’s one way to put it.
Oh, now we’re just being coy with each other. [Laughs.] I think one spine of the show is clearly: Is Brody or is Brody not a terrorist. And if he is, will Carrie catch him in time or is she in fact a little crazy? But I also think a strong central spine is this Casablanca-like relationship these two have, not being able to be with or without one another.

The chemistry between Carrie and Brody used to seem palpable but vague. Now … it’s not so vague anymore. Do you think there’s really a connection between them, or is each playing the other?
I think Carrie consciously places herself as a honeytrap and is surprised by her connection to the man she’s supposed to be surveilling. And it’s also in keeping with her slightly reckless nature, that she maybe has problems with boundaries. In Brody, he is excited and woken up by this connection he has with a woman, that he’s struggling to regain with his wife. They’re two broken-winged birds who recognize the damage in each other. Brody knows Carrie is intuiting something about him that no one else is, and she is crossing all sorts of professional lines by becoming emotionally engaged with a guy who’s a possible breach to homeland security. It’s wrong on so many levels, but it’s deliciously right as well!

Read the full interview at

Categories Interviews

Absolute Brighton interview

Sussex born and bred Hollywood actor Damian Lewis speaks exclusively to Danny Masters about his latest film role that surprisingly saw him working alongside one of his all time sporting heroes, Kenny Dalglish

Your latest film, Will, is all about a football-mad
boy. We saw you playing in the Soccer Aid
games, do you think you could have ever made
a career as a footballer?

I was good enough to have a couple of trials
for England schoolboys, but I was never focused
enough to have made a career out of playing
football. In truth, I was too lazy. I got tall very
quickly too as a youngster, so seeing as I was 6ft
and quick, I just used to hang around upfront as
a bit of a gloryboy striker. These days I’m getting
thicker round the waist so I have to sit in the
middle of the park and just spray the ball around
rather than do any actual running.

The film features Liverpool stars Kenny Dalglish,
Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. You’re a
big Liverpool fan so what was it like working
with your heroes?

Unfortunately I never got to meet Steven or
Jamie during the filming but I did persuade Kenny
to actually be in the film. I’d met him before at
the charity Soccer Aid games so he asked me
about the film. I told him that I was in it with
Bob Hoskins so he realised then it was actually a
proper film. I’m glad I had a hand in that because
he’s great in the film!

You went to boarding school here in Sussex,
at Ashdown House, Forest Row, so how come
you’re a Liverpool fan?

I was 5 or 6 years old and Liverpool were the
best side at that time and always on the TV so
I immediately latched onto them. I was quickly
hypnotised by the beautiful way in which they
played the game and I’ve supported them ever

Your Scouse accent in the film is very authentic!
Did that come naturally?

Because I’m a Liverpool fan, my friends have
always ribbed me about when exactly it was that
I lost my ‘Scouse accent.’ But for the purposes of
the film it was important that I got the accent
right. I wanted to do it justice and didn’t want
to come across as a fake so I spent a lot of time
working with a coach and getting it as perfect as
I could.

Did you always want to be an actor?

The thought first occurred to me at boarding
school. That was where I first discovered
theatre. Each summer we’d stage a Gilbert and
Sullivan operetta and I used to love singing the
solos. Then when I was at Eton, we put on a
production of Nicholas Nickelby. I must have
been 16 and that was the moment where I
thought, ‘I love this. This is what I want to do.’ I
knew then that I wanted to go to drama school.

Before you made it as an actor, what was your
worst job?

I used to sell car alarms on the phone! That was
pretty bad. I’d have to ring up people out of the
blue and try to sell them something they didn’t
want. I was in a permanent bad mood because
of that job.

Read the full interview here.

Categories Download Interviews Radio Will

Damian Lewis talks about ‘Will’

Damian Lewis was interviewed by the London radio station Magic 105.4 FM on Thursday. Click here for the interview or download it from our site here.

Update: BBC Radio Scotland also interviewed him about Will: Click here to listen to the interview at the BBC website (at the 21:42 mark) or click here for an mp3 download.

Categories Interviews

Time and place: Damian Lewis

I never anticipated living in Camden Town. As an 18-year-old, I’d gone to the Crush nights at the Electric Ballroom, so I thought that this part of London was a place for students and people wearing tie-dye T-shirts. But I found a fantastic little house with a roof terrace in a gorgeous, very urban row of workmen’s cottages on Prowse Place, a cobbled mews tucked away between Camden and Kentish Town. I bought No 7 in 2001 and lived there for five years. I had Baz Bamigboye on one corner and Amy Winehouse on another.

The house suffused with glorious morning light on one side and evening sun on the othet. It was close to the railway line; the arches were just down the street. It felt quite Dickensian, and I loved it.

Someone before me cleverly had inverted the house – you walked upstairs to the kitchen and the sitting room, which was open-plan, so it had a Manhattan-loft feel. It had a warm reddish wooden finish, with a fixed ladder through a hole in the roof to the terrace. I used to have friends round for barbecues and parties up there.

The kitchen felt a bit like a ship’s galley, with exposed beams and a burnished orange colour. Downstairs, it had one bedroom and a bathroom. I gave the place a lick of paint, but left it pretty untouched. My biggest purchase was a sofa from Heal’s, but my best was a dark-wood table and chairs for £60 from a local junk shop. I still have them.

I was filming a lot. I was up in Manchester making The Forsyte Saga, which was great, as I was able to get across to watch Liverpool play at weekends. I grew up in north London, so I should really be a Gooner [Arsenal fan], but my dad was more of a rugby man, so I was left to my own devices. I started supporting Liverpool because, in the late 1970s, they were the kings of Europe and had all the glam players.

Filming Dreamcatcher in 2002 was a slightly lonely experience. It took four months to make in Canada, and tanked terribly, so I didn’t get much joy out of that. Then I lived in New York for six months in 2004 when I was making Keane, a film I’m proud of.

I stayed on Christopher Street, in the West Village, in a classic old New York building with an iron fire escape, and lived the life of a single man in a bedsit, which was a lot of fun. Manhattan has an intensity because of its density – it never really closes down, and you can walk everywhere.

Camden, too, has its own particular bustle. Sometimes I would walk home and find litter all over the street where someone had been through the rubbish, and at other times I’d be popping round the corner to Whole Foods. There was also a little club at the beginning of my time there, which Coldplay used to go to.

I was having a sports-car moment when I lived there. I had a a racing-green TVR, which I loved, even though it never started when I wanted it to.

And I rode my bicycle a lot. It was fun to bomb along the Regent’s Canal to see friends in Hackney. I love the canal as a feature of the London landscape. People don’t realise how far you can travel along it.

I have a fabulous tie living there. I’d made Band of Brothers and had a career in America, so I was enjoying the fruits of that. And I met my wife, Helen [McCrory], towards the end of y time there, which is why I moved out. The house was just too small.

Damian Lewis stars in the film Will, which will be released on Friday

Source: The Sunday Times

(Thanks to Kaz!)

Categories Homeland Interviews

‘Homeland’s’ Cast and Crew on ‘Incredibly Shocking’ Finale and More How did you prepare to play Sgt. Brody?

Lewis: Brody was a very tough character for the guys to write, I think. The idea that this man had been

captured in the early days of the Iraq war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was held prisoner and then released eight years later,

I think what they knew was that he would be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder of some kind. And in his search for

salvation and some peace and spiritual clam, he had found God but the God he had found was in the form of Allah.

So I did a lot of research, as much as I could, into Islam and I went to the London Central Mosque and spoke with people

there who were incredibly welcoming. I learned how to say the prayers.

Alongside that, I was researching post traumatic stress disorder, reading accounts of how people dealt with it day to day.

Learning, psychologically, what it means to live with that daily.

And then thirdly, I have played soldiers before, I suppose most obviously in “Band of Brothers,” but the Marines have their

own different sets of traditions. I spent time hanging out with one or two guys really for anecdotal evidence and spoke with

friends of mine who’ve been at war. I gathered all the information I could and let it assimilate in me, somehow. You got the attention of “Homeland’s” producers by playing a schizophrenic in “Keane,” and now

you’re playing another emotionally damaged character. What draws you to roles like this?

Lewis: Most actors will say that the more psychotically complex a character, the more rewarding they are to

play. I enjoy the responsibility of playing people with real life psychological complexity. But I don’t know, probably it’s

having been sent to boarding school all my life. Emotional control is learned at a very young age in order to cope. It’s

reminiscent of being a young soldier in an army. You repress your natural responses. And in that way, boarding school is a great

place to train as an actor. What do you think Brody is at this point? Has he been turned or hasn’t he?

Lewis: There really isn’t a simple answer to that. What I would say as a little finale teaser for your

readers is that Brody attempts an act that is pretty shocking, but the reasons that he does it, or the reasons he lays plans to

do it, are more personal and emotional than viewers might be expecting. It’s incredibly shocking and visual.

But I think the thing to remember about Brody is that as much as he claims not to have been damaged by his time in the hole

and as much as it may be unclear at what point he came out of that hole and actually started living a life out in Iraq or Syria

or Afghanistan or wherever he’s held — was he a prisoner of war for eight years or was it more like two or three years? Those

things are still unclear for the audience.

But whatever’s happened, he’s definitely vulnerable, he’s definitely fragile. This is a man that for the past eight years has

just been hanging on. He’s confused by who he is. But I think that he decides that as a solider, he needs to act. It’ll be left

up to everyone else to decide whether his actions are acceptable or not.

Source: ABC News

Read more comments from Damian in an earlier ABC News article here.

Categories Interviews

Damian Lewis: An actor at the top of his game

Football is a funny game with a strange habit of dividing families and testing loyalties. In any other circumstance, Damian Lewis would never dream of highlighting any differences he and his wife, the actress Helen McCrory, have over bringing up their children; indeed they always show the upmost discretion in interviews, but the beautiful game brings out a rarely seen masculine tribal instinct in Lewis.

“Well we live in north London and our local team is Arsenal,” says the father of two. “And my wife, when I was filming in America – and I take great pleasure in making this public – went to the Emirates and bought my son an Arsenal strip. She doesn’t even support Arsenal. I said, ‘What are you playing at? You’ve crossed a line – a boy and father’s rite of passage, going on their first trip together.”

The actor is a die-hard Liverpool fan. In his latest film, Will, he gets to play a character who loves the Merseyside club as much as he does. He plays Gareth, an absent father who promises his son, Will, that should Liverpool reach the 2005 European Cup Final in Istanbul he will take him to the match. Given his own personal allegiance he clearly has not been coping well with the thought of his son Gulliver in an Arsenal shirt. Can Lewis bear to let his son support the local team? “You know what, I’m in two minds about that,” the 40-year-old admits. “I did say, ‘he’s got a birthday coming up, so I’m going to buy him a Liverpool strip as well, so he’s got both,’ and she said, ‘oh well, that’s just confusing. You’re going to play guilt-trips on your son; he’s going to want to wear one to please one parent and the other one to please the other parent’.”

Directed by American Ellen Perry, who Lewis describes as “dynamic and persuasive”, Will is a sweet coming-of-age children’s tale that features cameos from Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. It’s no wonder that Lewis would jump at the opportunity to appear in what is a significant but far from leading role. He tries to claim that he’s not involved with the film because it’s about Liverpool, before waxing lyrical about how his side, along with Manchester United, have the “greatest romance and tradition attached to any team.”

It’s hard to dispute that the 2005 European Cup Final, in which Liverpool came back from three goals down, was one of the great finals in the history of football. So downbeat was Lewis at half-time that he admits that he almost missed the unlikely comeback.

“I was watching the game in a pub in Soho and I left at half-time, just going ‘Oh bloody hell, this is a disaster’. I had a drink with a friend in a pub around the corner, and my friend said to me, ‘Are you daft? Get back into the pub and watch the second half.’ So ten minutes into the second half I returned in time to watch them stick three goals in in 15 minutes.”

Read the full interview at The Independent.

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

Damian Lewis happy to be troubled in ‘Homeland’


Damian Lewis has played a vast range of characters, from emotionally racked fathers to villainous aristocrats. But his recent television projects suggest that he’s developing a specialty: prisoners who find life outside to have its own considerable challenges.

In NBC’s quirky series “Life,” Lewis played an ex-cop released after years of being wrongly imprisoned. And now in Showtime’s “Homeland,” which premiered Oct. 2, Lewis takes on the role of Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody, who is rescued after spending eight years in Afghanistan as a POW. Although he returns home a war hero, he is obviously troubled. A CIA agent believes Brody may actually be planning a terrorist attack against America.

“These two men do seem to have similarities,” said Lewis recently by phone during a break in the filming of the drama, which is winding up production of its final first-season episodes in North Carolina. “They both seek revenge. There’s a vigilantism to both of them.”

Brody in the initial episodes is ominously quiet, conveying a turmoil beneath his haunted expressions, highlighted by strikingly blue eyes. “He’s a controlled explosion,” Lewis said.

The British actor, who makes his home in London with his wife and two daughters, has been delighted with the twists and turns in “Homeland.” It stars Claire Danes as driven CIA agent Carrie Mathison, who is battling her own demons as she obsessively pursues her suspicions about Brody. The series also features Mandy Patinkin as Mathison’s mentor.

“I’m surprised by the honesty of the writers — they have remained true to what they had originally pitched to me,” said Lewis, who undertook extensive research, including talking with former soldiers, reading firsthand accounts about post-traumatic stress disorder, and studying the Koran.

He’s invigorated by the complexity of his character and the series’ post-Sept. 11 perspectives: “This is really an explosive and controversial character. And what’s important to me in this piece is that any preconceptions about who’s bad and who’s good are challenged. The world is revealed as less black-and-white than some people believe.”

Executive producer Howard Gordon said he and fellow executive producer Alex Gansa (they previously worked together on “24” and “X Files”) felt that Brody was the most difficult of the main characters to cast and the most difficult to play. “Part of it is not knowing who he is and knowing who he is.” He called Lewis “an extraordinary actor with an all-American face, which is astounding because he’s British. He takes the role very seriously, and he’s done his homework.”


Read the full interview at the Los Angeles Times website.

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media

‘Homeland’ Star Dishes on Charlotte – Oct 5, 2011

Hiking, Swimming, and Southern Cooking

by Staff | Charlotte Observer | October 5, 2011

During a day of filming at a cabin on Lake Norman, Lewis took a few minutes to talk about the show and Charlotte.

Q. How are you enjoying Charlotte?

I’d never been to the state before, so it’s been a novelty. We’re staying in a great neighborhood in SouthEnd, and I’ve gone out of Charlotte and I’ve seen the countryside, and I’ve been to see some music here. I’ve got my belly full of some of your Southern cooking.

Q. How are your kids adjusting?

I have two small children, 3 and 4 years old. They love it. They learned to swim here.

Q. Tell me about your character, Sgt. Brody.

Brody is a U.S. Marine sergeant who went missing in action shortly after enlisting. He’s lost in Iraq, presumed dead, and then they find him having been a prisoner of war in an al-Qaida cell. … That’s the premise of the story – whether he is or isn’t a threat, and if he is, whether she’ll (Danes’ character) catch him in time.

Q. It’s interesting that the director included flashbacks with Brody. What do you think they add to the show?

Flashbacks used well are very powerful and certainly in a show like this, a mystery and a thriller. They can illuminate, obfuscate or create an ambiguity. You see Brody committing an atrocity he’s forced to do. It has a huge psychological impact on him. It helps you understand his character a little better after he returns home.

Q. What’s it like playing an American? You’re very convincing.

Thank you. I’ve played Americans a lot. The first time was in “Band of Brothers,” and I was very conscious of Americanisms, and concentrated hard to have an authenticity. When I’m at work, I speak in an American accent all the time, not just when I’m on set. When I leave the house, I become an American and I stay that way all day. It’s sort of become part of me.

Q. How do you like working with Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin?

She’s a sweetheart. She’s smart, funny, talented and a really good cook. I love talking to (Patinkin) about old theater stories. He’s invited me hiking a couple of times, and I get to hear his whole repertoire in the mountains as we go walking along.


Categories Homeland Interviews Print Media

Damian Lewis Bikes in His ‘Homeland’ – Oct 5, 2011

From Recycling to Bicycling 

by Gerri Miller | Mother Nature Network | October 5, 2011

When he’s home in London, Damian Lewis bicycles everywhere because it saves money as well as energy. “We have a congestion charge in London. If you take your car to the center of town you gotta pay 15 bucks,” he explains, noting that parking is another $7 an hour. But lately, Lewis, who recycles wherever he’s living, is in North Carolina, shooting Showtime’s new drama “Homeland,” playing a Marine newly returned home after eight years as a POW and suspected of being “turned” by terrorists who held him captive.

“I enjoyed the contradiction that someone who’s a hero in the nation’s eyes could be that person. That’s a thrilling premise for any show,” says Lewis. “It’s not just about the CIA catching terrorists. It’s a character piece about multiple complex issues, like identity on a political, national and spiritual faith-based ideological level and mental frailties, and how one reconnects with family. As fun as it is to just just be in a thriller I was intrigued that it wanted to tell a broader story.”

His character, Sgt. Nick Brody, has come back to a wife who thought he was dead and has taken up with his buddy (Diego Klattenhoff). “It’s overwhelming for both of them and I’m glad we’re addressing that in a serious way,” notes Lewis. Other plot elements show him behaving erratically and resisting the Marine Corps’ wishes for him to be a poster boy for heroism and re-enlist, all the while being watched on planted surveillance cameras by CIA case officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who’s convinced he’s hiding something (one of the rather unexpected things he’s hiding is revealed at the end of the second episode).

Lewis, last seen on American TV in the NBC series “Life,” about a wrongly incarcerated cop who returns to the force after years in prison, sees similarities between that role and his current one, noting that both are about men held captive for a long time and return from the experience changed men. But “Homeland” being a cable show, there are certain differences. “I show my ass a lot more,” he laughs. Cable also doesn’t require the seven-year contracts common in network television. “That’s more problematic from a family point of view, because we’re not going to go live in L.A. for seven years,” he explains. “I told my agent, ‘If a great cable show comes along, let me know.’ I’m so lucky this one did.”

Read the rest of the original article at Mother Nature Network

Categories Homeland Interviews interview

On TV, he’s a certified American military hero, first as Army Maj. Dick Winters, the central character in HBO’s epic 2001 mini-series, Band of Brothers, now as Marine Sgt. Nick Brody in Showtime’s riveting Homeland.

Off camera, he’s a Londoner of Welsh extraction, an Eton grad and Royal Shakespeare Company trouper.

There are times when even he gets confused.

“On the weekends, I’ll wake up, go to the store, do some errands and realize, ‘I’ve been talking like an American all day,’ ” Damian Lewis, 40, says by phone from L.A., where he’s shooting the eighth episode of Homeland.

Curiously, it’s the weather that causes him to toggle between his true self and his adopted persona.

“When it’s cool at home, I’m Celsius. I go, ‘Oh, my God, what is it, like 8 degrees outside?’ When it’s hot, I go Farenheit. Then it’s, ‘It must be 85 degrees out there!’ “

He hadn’t realized that he was playing a serviceman on cable for a second time until it was pointed out to him.

“That’s superficial to me,” he says. “They’re such radically different people in radically different circumstances. In terms of military bearing, yes, I find similarities. For a dithering actor like myself being able to play military men who are trained to make decisions quickly and act on them decisively is very therapeutic.”

To play a tortured POW like Homeland’s Brody takes some commitment.

“I lost a lot of weight for this,” Lewis says. “I wanted to be skinny. I’m not the most buff dude on the block, but I thought for truthfulness, this man has been in a hole for eight years. It would be ridiculous for him to take off a shirt and see a gym body.”

He also did extensive research on post-traumatic stress disorder.

“So many guys come back with an inability to have a tender, loving relationship with their wives. And sometimes an inability to love their kids,” he says. “They look forward to seeing them and then they’re shocked and confused by their own lack of interest.

“And that’s just from a 12-month tour of duty, from being engaged in live fire in that rough, all-male setting. Imagine being a POW for eight years and being brutalized that whole time.

“Brody is treated as a war hero but he’s carrying a massive secret,” continues Lewis. “Carrie Mathison [Claire Danes] is convinced he’s not everything he appears to be.”

Read the full interview at

Categories Homeland Interviews Media Print Media Interview


Question: What attracted you to this show and this character?

DAMIAN LEWIS: Well, what I read was a thrilling psychological and political thriller with a CIA agent convinced that this hero who returns, having been a POW with Al Qaeda for eight years, might have been turned by them and is a terrorist. I just enjoyed the contradiction that someone could return a hero in the nation’s eyes, but possibly not be that person. That is a thrilling premise. That is a great set-up, for any show. As the first chapter of your novel, that takes you to the next chapter.

This show is not just about the CIA catching terrorists. It’s not about that. It’s a character piece. It’s about more complex issues. It’s about family and identity. It’s about identity on a political, national, spiritual, and faith-based ideological level. It’s about identity on a more intimate, localized level, in regard to family and relationships with your loved ones. It also deals with mental frailties. It deals with mood disorder, in Claire Danes’ character. It deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, in my character. It deals with how one reconnects with family. The motif of parents and children runs through the piece. As fun as it is to just be in a thriller, where you jump from one incident to the next, I was intrigued by the fact that it wanted to tell a broader story as well.

If you’d gotten the same role and it was 22-episode run that was much more grueling and a much bigger commitment, would you still have been interested in the part?

LEWIS: That is a conversation that the networks have repeatedly, as to whether they should start producing 12-part series, instead of these 22 to 24 episode series, in order to get the stars to come do their shows. It’s a big commitment to ask someone to work on one role for nine or 10 months of the year. It does affect your decision-making, definitely.

How do you compare this to previous roles that you’ve played?

LEWIS: Oddly enough, there are similarities with this show Life that I did for NBC, a couple years ago, about a man who goes away. In the case of Life, he was sent to prison and spent 12 years there, and came back a changed man, in some way, from his experience. In this show, he’s a prisoner of war for eight years, and he comes back a changed man. I’m still very sad that Life didn’t go longer. It was one of the better shows on TV, that year. If you look at what NBC had, it was definitely one of the better shows that NBC had. NBC was crazy to cancel that show.

In England, we can’t make this kind of TV. We don’t have the resources. We actually don’t have the writers to write it. We don’t have film and TV language in our DNA, in the same way you guys do here. The big concept, in telling it compellingly and entertainingly, but in a psychologically real and complex way is something we don’t come up with as often as you guys do. So, for me to be here is a thrill.

Do you feel that cable is a little bit more freeing?

LEWIS: Well, they show my ass a lot more. I’ve noticed that. And, I’ve seen Morena’s tits, and that’s weird. But, that’s Showtime. No. If cable wants to distinguish itself from network, just by showing tits and ass, literally, then that’s sad. At times, you do wonder, if that’s the only distinction. It’s like, “Well, we haven’t seen anybody’s bottom in three episodes, so we need to write that scene.” But, is that really so important? No. For personal reasons, because I’m a Brit, I live in London. I don’t mean this grandly, but it was never my intention to live in L.A. and do a big network show. I did Life because it was just so good and I couldn’t say know to it. I really just wanted to do it.


Read the full interview at

Categories Homeland Interviews

Time Out Chicago Interview

As an unknown in Hollywood, Damian Lewis took a meeting more than a decade ago with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. It landed him the career-boosting role of Maj. Richard Winters in HBO’s Band of Brothers. Now the 40-year-old English actor plays another American soldier, though a very different one: In Showtime’s new series Homeland, Lewis stars as Sgt. Nicholas Brody, who returns home after eight years as a prisoner of war in Iraq. But CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) thinks the war hero may have been recruited by Al Qaeda. Lewis spoke by phone, between getting acupuncture and flying home to his wife and two small kids in London.

You’re shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina. What do you make of the American South?
It’s charming. People are very friendly, very open, very chatty. Little bit of a reliance on fried food.

We as viewers believe your character could be a hero or a traitor. You’ve said, “I guess I’m good at playing repressed individuals…all that bubbling energy bottled up inside.” Why do you do well in this type of role?
’Cause it means I never have to make a decision. [Laughs] I can be pointedly vague about who I am. In this case, he’s been broken emotionally and physically, spiritually, psychologically, and he comes back suffering an extreme dose of post-traumatic stress disorder and carrying this great secret, which is that—well, I won’t actually reveal what it is. The series plays with the idea that maybe he’s not a force for good, that he means harm.

It’s rare for a series to suggest an American soldier’s loyalty could be questionable, that he could be turned by Al Qaeda.
It’s a contentious issue. Certainly it’s not anyone’s intention to diminish what the soldiers have done since 2001. Politically, it’s left of center, the show, it’s a liberal viewpoint about what happens when you are witness to extreme violence and you’re in a vulnerable state of mind. A prisoner of war in the Middle East would have a Koran available to him more readily than a Bible, and he seeks spiritual guidance in Allah. The series has a responsibility to denounce the idea that just because you’re a Muslim you are a terrorist. That’s part of the great ignorance of the last ten years, which has been an unhappy result of the 9/11 bombings. He finds Islam, but he may have discovered a more poetic, beautiful, honorable, generous and charitable kind of Islam, and a kind of Islam that a lot of Americans don’t believe exists.

You say left of center. That’s radical for American TV. So are the suggestions that war-hero worship can blind us to unwelcome truths, that the CIA isn’t simply good.
This series sits in the thriller genre, and the key elements for a thriller are fear, anxiety, paranoia. But on a more important political level—down here in the South, you’re surrounded by army families. A lot of these soldiers return from war traumatized. They are of course welcomed as returning heroes, as they should be, but what this show tackles is the personal cost and what it’s like for soldiers to come back to families who have moved on. A lot of these families don’t come back together because the damage is too great on both sides. So that slightly explodes the myth of a returning triumphant hero.

Especially since the hero here is seen as possibly having become “the enemy.”
Our soldiers for the last ten years have been exposed more than the rest of us to an Islamic culture. A young American soldier who has been exposed to Islamic culture for the best part of ten years is a good representation of a factional element that has decided to act against what some people see—and this is a very liberal view—as terrorist acts perpetrated by a state. This series doesn’t shy away from exploring this notion, that whilst we defend our freedoms, there is arguably no greater terror than being in a small Afghan village or in Iraq and just out of nowhere a silent drone appearing and detonating, that there are people on the other side of the world living in terror as well.

Did you speak with soldiers who’d served in the Middle East or anyone who’d been a POW?
I’ve spoken to serving soldiers. I did not manage to speak to a POW. The overwhelming sense I got from soldiers is that there’s no point trying to describe what happened because nobody here can understand. And there’s a sense of entitlement, that you’re allowed to behave how you like because of what you went through. Most shocking of all: wanting to love your children and your wife but finding that you feel numb towards them.

How are you negotiating your U.S. and U.K. lives and careers?
When I was in L.A., and I was there frequently after Band of Brothers, I was a little bit scared off [by] the corporate nature. L.A. still ranks as one of my guilty pleasures, along with butter-pecan ice cream and Coldplay albums. We always knew in my family we would go back to London. Coming here to do this show was a big, big decision. I could see what an explosive and provocative show this could be.